Head-To-Head: Arsene Wenger vs Roy Hodgson

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 19 January 2018, 10:56

Sometimes there’s a brilliant TV series, one that you’ve adored, looked forward to and savoured every episode.

At the point when it’s been running several years, producers have the option to kill it dead at its peak a la Sopranos, or let it go on even in the knowledge that quality could be compromised as a result. Whilst the latter approach saves the anguish of a seemingly premature end to viewing pleasure, what happens next is oh so much worse.

Leaning purely on your affections for its glorious past, your favourite show runs on and on, even though it has lost the very elements that caused you to binge-watch it all night on Netflix in the past. It’s what’s known as flogging a dead horse, taking something that was once invincible and making it carry on way after it has begun to decline.

In the Premier League, there is only one man that this could apply to: Arsene Wenger.

Nobody could doubt the superb work done by the Frenchman in years gone by, with fans throughout the country having delighted at the beautiful football played in the Invincibles era. But now, in 2018, the 68-year-old has no place at a side supposedly competing at the top, and it’s really beginning to show.

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The North London outfit have earned just two points from their last three matches, results including a 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth and a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion. When you add in an embarrassing 4-2 defeat to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup – a trophy Wenger has won seven times with Arsenal – it’s really no wonder star forward Alexis Sanchez has refused to sign a contract extension.

However there are those who still defend the veteran boss, and Saturday’s opponent Roy Hodgson surprisingly leapt to his aid before taking his Crystal Palace side to the Emirates on Saturday.

"He's been criticised many times in the past but he could lose the next 50 games he ever plays and it certainly wouldn't change one bit my respect for him as a manager, my respect for him as a person and in particular my respect for the job he's done at Arsenal, which is something quite outstanding.

"It's easy for me to empathise or say good things about a guy like Arsene Wenger because I can't really understand what there is to say that is not good about him.”

While the former England boss is indeed correct about Wenger’s past achievements, Arsenal supporters are certainly not ready to see him lose the next 50 matches and remain in a job and that is where – deliberately or not – Hodgson is missing the point.

Indeed the 70-year-old was inevitably ridiculed himself when taking on the role at Selhurst Park, but has defied all the critics and has begun to turn the side’s fortunes around. The Eagles had lost all four opening Premier League encounters when previous boss Frank de Boer was duly fired and – after suffering 5-0 and 4-0 hammerings from Manchester City and Manchester United respectively – Hodgson masterminded a superb 2-1 victory over Chelsea as Palace took their first win of the season in October.

Now, the side who looked dead certs for relegation early on are undefeated in 11 of their last 12 matches and are five points above the bottom three. It’s worth noting that that solitary defeat was versus Arsenal in the reverse fixture, but there is no doubt which side is in better form at the moment.

So while Arsene Wenger is flogging a dead horse at the Emirates stadium, Roy Hodgson is proving there is life in the old dog yet.

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